But this process was accomplished through the agency of Malchut, Ramchal goes on to say here in Petach 52. And he immediately ties it in to the Shechina in his own comments here (which Malchut is often equated with). So we’ll now discuss the concept of the Shechina in various classical works and then from Ramchal’s perspective.
The term Shechina itself, which doesn’t appear anywhere in Tanach refers to “that which dwells,” and is derived from the verb shachen or shachan, “to dwell” or “reside”.
The impetus to provide a term for God’s presence — which is at bottom the meaning of Shechina — was the problem of just where to locate God. If He’s said to dwell in the Tabernacle or the Holy Temple (see Exodus 25:22, Leviticus 16:2, 2 Samuel 6:2, etc.) and to also be “the God of heaven” (Ezra 6:10, etc.), while it’s nonetheless true that “ the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3), then just where is He?
The answer of course is that all are true, but that’s not all a simple concept to get across, as His existing in lofty places seems befitting to His glorious being, while His dwelling in the muck and mire, if you will, seems to demean Him. Yet the latter allows for our coming in contact with Him in the sorts of ways we’d need to in order to worship Him and draw close to Him which are the bedrocks of the religious life. So let’s see how earlier sages dealt with his dilemma.
(c) 2013 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
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